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What are the main themes of change in Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl?

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kiwifingers | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 14, 2012 at 7:48 AM via web

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What are the main themes of change in Boy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 14, 2012 at 3:57 PM (Answer #1)

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There is a sense in which change is going to be the principal theme of any autobiography, as the writer is going to focus on key events that helped shape him or her into the person that they have turned out to be. Every event in an autobiography has been carefully selected for a reason, and part of this reason is the way that it formed that writer. What is interesting about the theme of change in this work is the way that Dahl refers to so many very painful and sad memories of his childhood. Consider the following quote from the novel that relates to his experience of school:

By now I am sure you will be wondering why I lay so much emphasis upon school beatings in these pages. The answer is that I cannot help it. All through my school life I was appalled by the fact that masters and senior boys were allowed literally to wound other boys, and sometimes quite severely. I couldn’t get over it.

What makes this quote so intriguing is the kind of detached, conversational tone Dahl takes when looking back at what was obviously a very painful and sad chapter of his life. We can see that through a combination of both painful and happy memories Dahl presents us with a version of his childhood that does not attempt to either gloss over the painful episodes or present it as a time of suffering alone. He tries to give us an accurate impression of the kind of experiences that formed him and changed him into the writer that he turnd out to be.

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